Spring 2010

Table of Contents - Vol. VI, No. 1


Poetry    Fiction    Reviews   

Michael Salcman


The Sulfurous Days of Summer

How often I have lain on a green haze
of lawn, soaking up the sulfurous days
of summer. How often I have thought my life
reborn when, pinked and over-ripe,
I’ve spied a pair of breasts
levitating before my eyes, like two crests
on a wave poised to come ashore,
its shadow fantastic on the ocean floor,
smashing razor clams and oyster shells
into uncountable grains, pounding in the swells.
But the image ebbs away like love’s fingers in the dark
or any imagined glory as wide off the mark
from the real as thinking is from feeling,
or this vain hope, as death is from non-being.



I try to think of nothing now as a baby does—a bright light on the horizon,
a key ring shake, a moist breast that brushes your cheek
until animal energy overcomes the mind with pure sensation
and thoughts grow out to fill the empty spaces not really empty.

Was any mind ever so blank, a tabula rasa accepting the Enlightenment
theory of the self and the body’s position in space?
Did I ever believe that nothing exists between atoms
but a lacework of holes through which a chair might fall,
or even myself through the chair, as if wood or metal were merely vapor?

Not really. Given the probabilities I never slipped through
and no one I knew did either. We watched astronauts walk on the moon
and circle in seemingly empty space,
until science filled the ether too: bosons and gravitons
and newly discovered stars arrayed on velvet like diamonds in a shop.

We once had space on earth but the countryside lost its room.
We had nights empty of the city’s spume
and cities with corners of silence. I remember
when the locus of nothing was all around us, not an unknown,
a construct like the position of an electron.

Then came the deluge: boom boxes, cell phones and too many facts.
And feeling unquiet as a lack of tact, I thought emptiness only a concept
until you left and nothing reared its ugly head in amplitude.


The Pretty Good Father

Estranged from you by anatomy
I look up at your bottom
as you swing
in my hands, a smiling doll
of possibility, your brown curls
like your mother’s,
your laugh not quite
like any other, afraid to squeeze
too hard those soft muscles
I might bruise like swelling
peaches and wonder:
what will be left for me to do
as you grow,
but stand outside
your dreams, as strange a model
of rectitude as you might find,
at times even a pretty good father,
one who owes you more from the start
than you ever will owe to him.


© Michael Salcman



Poetry    Fiction    Reviews   

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